Posted on: September 3, 2011 1:32 am
By Matt Snyder
Austin Jackson, Tigers. The young center fielder had been an offensive disappointment for much of the Tigers' season, but he started to show signs of life a few weeks ago. Now, he's flat out hot. With a 3-for-5 game in which he hit a home run, and the Tigers won 8-1, Jackson has now put together a huge five-game stretch. In those five games, he's hitting .500 with two doubles, a triple, two homers, four RBI and eight runs scored. His OPS is 1.417 in that stretch. The Tigers lineup looks a lot scarier with him swinging the bat like he can. Just ask the White Sox.
The San Francisco Giants. They went into Friday night's game trailing the Diamondbacks by six games. The D-Backs came in with a nine-game winning streak. And the defending champs came through with exactly the effort they needed. Matt Cain battled through eight innings, despite not having his best command or stuff (he walked four while only striking out three). The offense got a huge effort from July acquisition Carlos Beltran (4-for-4, triple, home run, three RBI). Put it together and mix in an all-around team effort, and you have a 6-2 Giants victory. The deficit is still five games, but there are two games left in the series at San Fran. This thing could be three games by Labor Day. Of course, if the D-Backs take the next two it's a seven-game difference. We'll see. Head-to-head series in the last month are fun.
Kevin Millwood, Rockies. I don't care if it was against the offensively-challenged Padres in the best pitcher's park in the majors, because Millwood was picked up off the scrap heap by Colorado. Thus, his seven shutout innings with eight strikeouts and zero walks in the Rockies' 3-0 win certainly bears mention here.
Andrew Miller, Red Sox. With the Clay Buchholz and Daisuke Matsuzaka injures -- not to mention how unreliable John Lackey has been -- the Red Sox lost a lot of starting pitching depth. So when Miller strung together back-to-back victories (0.77 ERA), there was hope that the former first rounder might be finally emerging. Instead, Friday night was a wakeup call. Miller coughed up five hits, four walks and six earned runs to the Rangers in just 1 1/3 innings. The outing set the tone for a 10-0 loss, as the offense was stymied by Derek Holland, who threw seven shutout innings. Meanwhile, the Yankees won, which means the Red Sox are now back to second place (by a half game).
John Danks, White Sox. The White Sox have a big opportunity this weekend, but didn't start off on the right foot Friday. They entered the three-game series trailing the Tigers by 5 1/2 games. With Justin Verlander pitching Friday, Danks was going to have to bring his A-game and keep it close. Instead, he turned in one of his worst outings of the season. The Tigers dinged him for nine hits and eight earned runs in 4 2/3 innings, as the White Sox lost 8-1. The loss essentially makes the final two games of the series must-wins for the White Sox. If they lose both, they'll be 8 1/2 out. Even a split keeps them at 6 1/2 and that's tough to make up in 3 1/2 weeks -- especially when Verlander is going every fifth day for the team they're chasing.
Braves pitching staff/planning. The Braves' staff was spotted a 5-0 lead through three innings Friday, but couldn't hold it. One of the biggest issues may have been the overuse of Jonny Venters and Craig Kimbrel at the back-end of the bullpen. Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez had told reporters he wanted to avoid using either Friday. So that means he was likely holding back from using Scott Linebrink or Eric O'Flaherty before the eighth. After starter Brandon Beachy let the Dodgers creep to within 5-3 in the sixth, Gonzalez needed to dip into his reportedly short-handed bullpen. The result was Arodys Vizcaino allowing four hits, two walks and five earned runs in the seventh -- and an 8-6 loss. The Braves' usual seventh-to-eighth-to-ninth inning bullpen combo (O'Flaherty/Venters/Kimbrel) is the best in baseball, but they've been heavily leaned upon all season. Gonzalez better get them some rest down the stretch, or Friday night's game will be a harbinger for the postseason. He'll need some combination of O'Flaherty, Venters and Kimbrel available in every game in October. Maybe try to get by with Linebrink or the starting pitcher in the seventh and use two of the three studs in the eighth and ninth to keep everyone fresh? It is worth mentioning that Peter Moylan will be back from his rehab assignment soon, so that should help alleviate some of the pressure.
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Posted on: August 10, 2011 1:33 pm
By Evan Brunell
The Braves called up Arodys Vizcaino from Triple-A, adding a shot in the arm to the bullpen as Atlanta fights for a postseason spot.
Vizcaino is just 20, but has risen four levels through the system, starting the year at high-Class A where he posted a 2.45 ERA in nine starts. In Double-A, he made eight starts and three relief appearances as the Braves started preparing him for a bullpen role as both a way to cap his innings and to bolster the major-league team.
For Double-A, Vizcaino registered a 3.81 ERA over 49 2/3 innings, then made six relief appearances for Triple-A and tossed seven innings, giving up seven hits and three runs, but just one earned. He struck out eight, allowing zero free passes. Across all three levels, he threw 97 innings, punching out an even 100 and walking just 28, sensational numbers for the righty.
Vizcaino was acquired prior to the 2010 season along with Michael Dunn and Melky Cabrera from the Yankees for Javier Vazquez and Boone Logan. Vazquez imploded yet again in his second tour of duty in pinstripes, while Logan has been a serviceable reliever. Cabrera was a bust in Atlanta and Dunn was moved to Florida in the Dan Uggla trade, but Vizcaino is the prize of the deal. His impact could be significant -- think Francisco Rodriguez's dazzling run in 2002, which put K-Rod on the map.
While the Yankees would prefer to have Vizcaino back and throwing in their bullpen, New York is closing in on converting 20-year-old Manny Banuelos to a reliever for its own shot in the arm.
To make room for Vizcaino, the Braves released Scott Proctor, who racked up a 6.44 ERA in 29 1/3 innings,
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Posted on: July 30, 2011 1:36 am
By C. Trent Rosecrans
One of the most interesting is the Cardinals having interest in Dodgers shortstop Rafael Furcal, Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports.
This comes after the Post-Dispatch's Joe Strauss tweeted shortstop had become the team's "priority" at the non-waiver trade deadline.
Furcal, 33, is struggling this season, hitting .195/.267/.241 coming into Friday's game but could still help the Cardinals -- which tells you all you need to know about the team's struggles at the position.
• A new hot rumor is that the Tigers are making a push for Ubaldo Jimenez and have offered top prospect Jacob Turner, according to FoxSports.com's Ken Rosenthal. Turner, the team's 2009 first-round pick, is 3-5 with a 3.48 ERA at Double-A Erie this season. He has 90 strikeouts and 32 walks in 113 2/3 innings. The Tigers would prefer not to deal anyone from their big-league roster.
Towers also said there are six or seven prospects he doesn't want to deal.
• Brewers general manager Bob Melvin told Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel he is still looking at deals, but wasn't hopeful of completing another. On Thursday the Brewers acquired Felipe Lopez from the Rays and brought him from Triple-A Durham where he was playing for Tampa Bay before bringing him to Milwaukee to replace the injured Rickie Weeks.
Melvin said the team would love to find another infielder, but isn't seeing many on the market. The Brewers have rumored to have talked to the Dodgers about both Jamey Carroll and Furcal.
However, the Los Angeles Times' Dylan Hernandez tweets the Dodgers' conversations about Carroll "have died."
• Orioles reliever Koji Uehara is a hot name, Sports Illustrated's Jon Heyman tweets. He says Uehara will go somewhere. He'll make any bullpen better. However, Rosenthal tweets that it's only a 50-50 chance the Orioles move Uehara. He is 13 appearances shy of a $4 million vesting option for 2012. The Baltimore Sun links Uehara with the Pirates, Diamondbacks, Rangers, Phillies and Tigers and notes all five of those teams have had scouts around the Orioles in recent series.
• The Rangers are certainly interested in bullpen help, but San Diego may not be their only trading parter. Brady Tinker of Fox Sports Southwest, tweets Andrew Bailey of the Athletics is the "most likely top bullpen addition" by Texas.
• The Braves may be reluctant to make much of a deal at the deadline so they don't repeat the Mark Teixeira mistake when the team sent, among others, Neftali Feliz and Elvis Andrus to Texas, David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution writes. The Braves are refusing to give up any of their top four pitching prospects -- Julio Teheran, Arodys Vizcaino, Randall Delgado or Mike Minor. They could look at dealing from that grow in the offseason when the team could be searching to fill more holes. Atlanta has placed center fielders Nate McLouth and Jordan Schafer on the disabled list in the last two days with Jose Constanza starting on Friday, making his big-league debut. Yahoo!'s Passan tweets the team is targeting center fielders. Rosenthal writes Atlanta is looking not only at center fielders such as B.J. Upton and Michael Bourn, but also corner outfielders such as Ryan Ludwick, Carlos Quentin and Josh Willingham.@cbssportsmlb on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Tags: AL Central, AL East, AL West, Andrew Bailey, Andy Oliver, Arodys Vizcaino, Astros, Athletics, B.J. Upton, Bob Melvin, Brewers, C. Trent Rosecrans, Cardinals, Carlos Quentin, Clint Barmes, Diamondbacks, Dodgers Rafael Furcal, Felipe Lopez, Hiroki Kuroda, Jacob Turner, Jamey Carroll, Jason Kubel, Jason Marquis, Jordan Schafer, Jose Constanza, Josh Willingham, Julio Teheran, Koji Uehara, Leo Nunez, Marlins, Michael Bourn, Mike Minor, MLB rumors, Nate McLouth, NL Central, NL East, NL West, Phillies, Pirates, Pirates, Randall Delgado, Randy Choate, Rangers, Rockies, Ryan Ludwick, Tigers, trade deadline, Twins, Ubaldo Jimenez
Posted on: October 19, 2010 3:48 pm
The Atlanta Braves released reliever Takashi Saito and outfielder Melky Cabrera on Tuesday, putting in motion the offseason for the Braves.
Saito's contract demanded his release to be a free agent, as the 40-year-old would have been bound to the team via arbitration otherwise. He put up a 2.83 ERA in 54 innings, whiffing 69 in his first season with the Braves but was injured down the stretch and missed the NLDS, which the Braves lost.
Meanwhile, Cabrera could have been retained by the club for two more years of arbitration. However, Cabrera's current $3.1 million salary -- certain to raise in arbitration -- is hardly justified by a .255/.317/.354 line in 509 plate appearances and showing nothing of value to Atlanta besides a strong outfield arm. (And as the graphic to the right shows, what good is a strong arm if you don't know where it's going?)
Cabrera was a liability at the plate and on defense and was also overweight from day one. Clearly, his successes in New York caused him to be lax -- something the Braves found out after dealing him for Javier Vazquez. (In perhaps a silver lining for the Braves, Vazquez didn't work out for New York as well.)
Even if Cabrera had a successful season, however, GM Frank Wren said his release likely would have still happened, as the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports. Wren said the Braves considered Cabrera a one-year player from the get-go, making it clear that prospect Arodys Vizcaino was the real prize in the trade with the Yankees.
Just 26, the Melk Man will land somewhere and attempt to rehabilitate his value, but he'll have a long road ahead in getting himself back in shape and forcing his way into playing time.-- Evan Brunell
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